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Con-Fusion - Salah Saouli, 2009

49 New Projects to Receive AFAC Grants!

15 Jul, 2012 

AFAC is happy to announce the selection of 49 new grantees (41 individuals and 8 institutions) for the first cycle of its semi-annual 2012 General Grant. The call was open for proposals between February 7th and May 7th, accessible to all individual artists and independent cultural institutions in the Arab world working in the fields of Visual Arts, Performing Arts, and Literature. The number of grants awarded per category are:


- 16 Visual Arts Projects (13 individuals + 3 institutions)
- 12 Performing Arts Projects (8 individuals + 4 institutions)
- 21 Literature Projects (19 individuals + 2 institutions)


This year’s recipients hail from Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Morocco, Yemen, Kuwait, Tunisia and Jordan; their projects have been carefully selected following a thorough evaluation process with juror committees composed of regional experts and specialists in the relevant artistic genres.


AFAC’s 2012 second call for the categories of Cinema, Music and RTR (Research, Training and Regional Events) is now open until September 15, 2012.


Please scroll down for the names of the grantees and their project briefs.



Visual Arts Grantees


Grantee: Salah Saouli (Lebanon)
Project Title: Arab Contemporary
Project Description: "Arab Contemporary" creates a conceptual "museum of contemporary art", consisting of copies/fakes of key works of modern and contemporary art, carried out by artists selected especially for this project. The aim is to invite a critical reflection on notions of authenticity and documentation and to address the lack of relevant art institutions, museums and public collections in the region as carriers of art historical knowledge and reference points of local artistic and cultural heritage.


Grantee: Monira M.E.A.Y. Al Qadiri (Kuwait)
Project Title: "Muhawwil" (Transformer)
Project Description: A four-channel video installation based on Islamic figurative murals from electric power stations in Kuwait. These murals mark a transformation in religious discourse within Gulf societies: where once only calligraphic depictions of this nature were allowed, today’s pop-culture and mass-production of images have forced conservative entities to reconsider this tradition. This project reconstructs these paintings into animation, so as to highlight the dilemma of representation that exists between the ancient and the modern.


Grantee: Mohammed Alaa Eldin Mohammed Fahmy Ali (Egypt)
Project Title: The Vitrine
Project Description: A shop window in Downtown Cairo will act as an installation space where viewers and passersby can experience the work on display. The installations will change every month in response to current events for a period of six months with no sign or indication that an art performance is taking place. The objective is to take art to a wider non-art-seeking audience and observe the impact of installations, as they stand on their own. 


Grantee: Mohamad Hafeda (Lebanon)
Project Title: Al-Mazraa, Negotiating Spaces of Conflict
Project Description: This project investigates the negotiation of spaces of sectarian-political conflict in contemporary Beirut and the informal processes and strategies for claiming spaces by different site users and controllers such as residents, militia and politicians. The possibility of an alternative mode of representation and mapping of the city can emerge. The exhibition will constitute of three main installations of audio-video, visual and textual components in addition to a booklet that brings the research material and the associated installations into one format.


Grantee: Manar Moursi (Egypt)
Project Title: Learning from the Sidewalk: 1001 Chairs in Cairo
Project Description: “Learning from the sidewalk: 1001 Street Chairs in Cairo” explores the urban dynamics of a growing megalopolis through the lens of an overlooked object. Structured around a series of walks, this project is a photographic documentation of street chairs supplemented by interviews with their users. The recent expansion of Cairo has run parallel to a proliferation of consumer goods in its public spaces. Omnipresent street chairs are one of the city’s defining fixtures.


Grantee: Lamia Camille Ziadé (Lebanon)
Project Title: LOUXOR (temporary title)
Project Description: This graphic novel shares the stories of the great female Arab singers of the awakening ‘Nahda’ era at the dawn of the 20th century until its twilight in 1979 set against the urban histories of Cairo, Beirut, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Damascus, etc. The lives, roles and influences of these women of splendor – Asmahan, Oum Koulthoum, Layla Murad, Fairouz, and others - once embodied the radiance of modern Arab culture. In an artistic and intimate approach, their destinies are explored against the backdrop of a changing Middle East. 


Grantee: Héla Ammar (Tunisia)
Project Title: "Counfa"
Project Description: Conceived after several recent visits conducted by the grantee to prisons in Tunisia, this project superimposes images that mix together the objective and subjective experience of imprisonment, confinement and marginalization at a time of increasing liberties and freedom. 


Grantee: Dima Hourani (Palestine)
Project Title: Imagined Homeland - where we are living.
Project Description: This video installation project uses documentary films of interviews with Palestinians living in exile who dream about returning to Palestine, Palestinians currently seeking asylum in Europe, and Palestinians living in Palestine who dream about getting out. The project explores the interviewees’ imagination through the stories they tell and includes animation art to express their emotions and dreams. The film also includes footage that will show the high contrast between the animation-imagination-fantasy and the cruelty of reality, thus exposing a chaotic landscape.


Grantee: Bassam El Baroni (Egypt)
Project Title: The Ghost of Taha Hussein
Project Description: A visual art exhibition that will include specially commissioned new art works in different media by eight artists based in Egypt. The exhibition takes Taha Hussein's 1936 book "The Future of Culture in Egypt" as its starting point. The same questions of identity, modernity, and cultural relationships to the “West" that Hussein had faced, still haunt Egypt and other Arabic speaking countries today. The exhibition is an attempt to go beyond the written word in addressing these issues, embracing visual art as a vocabulary that might reveal fresh insights.


Grantee: Ali Cherri (Lebanon)
Project Title: Earth-Shattering Dreams (working title)
Project Description: Can science teach us something about the nature of change? In a moment where the region is on a turning point and events are moving faster than one can grasp, perhaps the much slower and visually evident pace of geological movement can shed light on the question: how can we deal with a reality that is constantly morphing? And how do artists in particular deal with representing change? This project turns towards geology and the study of earthquakes in Lebanon as a subject that could open to many sub-readings and interpretations about the situation of the country today.


Grantee: Contemporary Image Collective (Egypt) 
Project Title: PhotoCairo 5
Project Description: The fifth edition of an international, multidisciplinary contemporary arts festival held in Cairo once every 2 years. Through an exhibition of existing and newly commissioned works, a two-day symposium and a publication, this edition of PhotoCairo addresses art as a space of freedom by responding to the post-2011 emerging cultural politics, positioning artists between paradoxically confining roles: either as mouthpieces of the presumed ideals of the 2011 revolutionary events; or under the censorious gaze of culturally conservative forces.


Grantee: Beirut Art Center (Lebanon)
Project Title: Solo Exhibition by Jananne Al-Ani
Project Description: Jananne Al-Ani is an Iraqi artist based in London whose work has been widely exhibited around the world. This will be her first solo exhibition in Lebanon, presenting older and more recent works in video and photography.


Grantee: Mohamed Kamal Harb (Palestine)
Project Title: Another Light – A Multi-Media Art Exhibition
Project Description: Three visual media are explored in this creative documentation of Gaza. The first includes an exhibition of 40 plastic art works presented as a single unit. The second is an experimental photographic exhibition shot and collected over a 10 year period by the grantee as he portrays daily life in Gaza: images of joy, love, children, war, blockade and homes turned to ruins by war. The third is a video installation that explores appearance and disappearance of faces and bodies of significant others in our lives. 


Grantee: Mohamed Kamel Abdullatif Badarneh (Palestine)
Project Title: Come Back Safely
Project Description: Every day since 1948, labor workers are injured or killed on the job in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. 80% of them are Palestinian Arabs. “Hamadah Aladdin, Nidal Shawish, Firas Harkoush… these are just some of the names of my friends who died while working under harsh circumstances. I dedicate this project to them”. To date, 63 laborers and construction-site workers have been killed; most of them were young men, negligent towards their own lives, their own futures, and their entitlement to basic rights in relationship to their employers.


Grantee: Amine El-Gotaibi (Morocco)
Project Title: The Submission Ring
Project Description: This mechanically programmed installation symbolizes man’s struggle. Over and over again, a human body mold is filled with water, then set to freeze, then placed in the fighting ring where it is exposed to the world and gradually melts and thaws away only to be collected again, molded, frozen, and replaced on the fighting ring. 


Grantee: Aden Photography Club (Yemen)
Project Title: The Burden of Civilization
Project Description: This photography competition project takes on the ancient and modern aspects of cultural heritage in Aden city in the Republic of Yemen. Participants are invited to contribute photographs that represent Yemeni heritage, as sites and as practice, including famous heritage locations and images of dancing, weaving and traditional dress. 


Performing Arts


Grantee: Nawel Skandrani (Tunisia)
Project Title:100%Water! / Ila hadden mè... / EauSecours!
Project Description: Water is life; It is everyone’s right and it must be equally accessible to all. If the 20th century is branded by the struggle for oil, there is no doubt that the 21st century will be branded by the struggle for water - particularly in the Arab world where water is scarce and already a cause of conflict. This is a collaborative project with partners and performers from the Arab region and Europe who, through contemporary dance, visual arts, music and words, offer a series of performances on water under threat. 


Grantee: Wael Kodeih (Lebanon)|
Project Title: Good bye Schlöndorff
Project Description: In 1981, after starring in the narrative film "Circle of Deceit" by German director Volker Schlöndorff, Lebanese militiamen find themselves trapped in a Beirut neighborhood that had been specially secured for the filming. As inhabitants of "the skewed district", exiled within their own home country, they are unable to establish contact with the outside world except through audio letters recorded by their relatives. This performance combines intimate letters, audiotapes, music compositions and excerpts from the film as it explores the boundaries between reality and fiction in times of war.


Grantee: Dalia Naous (Lebanon)
Project Title: Cairography
Project Description: "Cairography" is a video dance performance that showcases four non-Egyptian female friends discussing the Body as it is subjected to socio-political pressure and spatial constraints in the city of Cairo. Inspired by a graffiti slogan found on the walls of Cairo - "The Street is Ours!" - the project questions the visible and invisible restrictions between public and private spaces as it confront the Body and the women’s varying approaches to claiming those spaces.


Grantee: Mounzer Baalbaki (Lebanon)
Project Title: Rapid Eye Movement – REM
Project Description: An exploration of the subconscious, this audio-visual performance features a stage with a protruding wall on the edge of which stands the actor. Several interpretations of the setting are possible. How far can theatre go in communicating multi-layered human existence? The performance uses projected sounds and images to portray the subconscious’ strange wanderings. 


Grantee: Mohammad Banihani (Jordan)
Project Title: The 9th Day before the Last
Project Description: A once-young actor is released after spending 30 years in detainment. He finds himself face to face with a world he cannot quite touch, where past, present and future have merged. He decides to tell his story in an effort to find answers, to make sense. This postmodern theatrical performance highlights the mechanisms of repression and tyranny suffered by Arabs, particularly youth and artists, who get arrested simply for expressing variant views and beliefs. 


Grantee: Mohamad Osama Halal (Syria)
Project Title: Cellophane
Project Description: A group of dancers and musicians working with the director are given a series of exercises and personal questions that provoke them into peeling away the masks which society superimposes. Whether government authority, family authority or ego, all are part of the struggle as each individual attempts to face the dictatorship that, in effect, he/she has contributed to create. Seeking a new language that reflects on the reality behind the masks - a network of visual, motor and musical phrases - can this artistic approach bring us closer to the pulse of reality on the street?


Grantee: Ezzat Ismail Ezzat (Egypt)
Project Title: A Night of Contemporary Dance (2)
Project Description: A continuation of the "celebrating presence and diversity” festivities launched in October 2011, "A Night of Contemporary Dance (2)" is a collection of youthful and energetic dance performances designed to promote contemporary dance in Egypt. 


Grantee: Oussama Adib Ghanam (Syria)
Project Title: The Return to the Homeland
Project Description: The outcome of “On the Edge” workshop conducted by the independently-run Damascus Theater Laboratory in February 2012 where a group of 20 young Syrian actors and dramaturges explored and analyzed in depth British Nobel Prize-winner Harold Pinter’s play “The Homecoming.” This play production focuses on the relationships between language, social realities and control strategies. Pinter’s script is compared with the works of playwrights Sarah Kane and Mark Ravenhill in the theatrical creation of a critical contemporary Arabic adaptation.


Grantee: Fabrique Culturelle des Anciens Abattoirs de Casablanca (Morocco)
Project Title: Urban Dance Meetings
Project Description: Contemporary dance, though a very rich medium of expression, is lacking in Morocco where spaces for experimental choreography and rehearsal are scarce. Various stakeholders – professional dancers, enthusiastic amateurs, and eager audiences – are also often disconnected from each other. This project is designed to address these issues and bring dance aficionados together through a series of workshops that aim to foster new spaces for free expression through dance in popular neighborhoods. 


Grantee: Collectif Kahraba (Lebanon)
Project Title: Nehna wel Amar wel Jiran
Project Description: A three-day outdoor festival open to all and free of charge, this project brings together theatre, dance, puppetry, storytelling and music in a Beirut neighborhood. Small happenings occur throughout the evening, unfolding through a guided tour that culminates into the event. The quartier becomes a welcoming space animated by encounters, interactions and collaborations between neighbors, guests, amateurs, professionals, artists, children and adults alike. 


Grantee: The First Ramallah Troupe (Palestine)
Project Title: Vivaldi in Palestine
Project Description: Vivaldi’s Four Seasons was first written in 1723, the Baroque era, characterized by exuberance and excessiveness and a transformed relationship between man and nature. Over the last three centuries, however, the level of change has gone extreme and we are in an ‘era of madness.’ Exploitation of nature and human behavior is reaching unprecedented excesses: massive industrialization, imperialism, commodification of the world, global warming - it seems that the four seasons have merged into one hellish reality. Performed by an aspiring Palestinian troupe, cameos of contemporary dance alongside Vivaldi’s music will express these situations as experienced from their personal perspectives.


Grantee: The Popular Theatre Association for Performing Arts and Training (Palestine)
Project Title: Please Steal Less
Project Description: Inspired by the works of Italian playwright and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Dario Fo, this is a black comedy about the moral collapse and decay of society. Through satire, it rejects corruption and pinpoints the inherent weaknesses of democratic systems. The performance is also an invitation to reclaim one’s individual confidence in changing the world for the better. 




Grantee: Walaa Fathe Hassan (Egypt)
Project Title: Cats
Project Description: A quasi-autobiographical story set in Cairo highlighting the exceptional transitions experienced by the country and the author’s private life. It begins initially as an attempt by the author to overcome personal trauma through creative narrative and, as events evolve, her stories weave together private and public concerns. The story becomes a search for a better understanding of herself and her role in the surrounding developments of her country as seen from her first hand experience as a resident in an old down-town building located near the Ministry of Interior just minutes away from “Tahrir” Square.



Grantee: Wagdy El-Komy (Egypt)
Project Title: Lace Houses
Project Description: A novel about an Egyptian journalist who travels through southern Sudan, Zambia and South Africa in order to track down the source of weapons supply to Gaza and the Palestinians. On his way, he meets a Sudanese smuggler and together they discuss journalism and smuggling. 


Grantee: Hala Hussein (Egypt)
Project Title: Al – Bawtaka Electronic Magazine.
Project Description: A publication of twelve fiction stories translated from English to Arabic that literary criticism and analyses of their cultural contexts. Online editions will be published quarterly in 2013 on the Al-Bawtaka Electronic Magazine with a hard-copy compilation of all four issues to be published by “Dar Al- Bawtaka” for distribution in Cairo by December 2013.


Grantee: Mouad Bouyadou (Morrocco)
Project title: World (D-2112)
Project description: A collection of science fiction stories, a genre that is almost non-existent in the Arabic language. This publication seeks to draw attention to Arabic science fiction as a worthy literary genre that encourages scientific enquiry, open imagination and a spirit of curiosity towards new horizons. 


Grantee: Mustafa Mustafa (Palestine)
Project title: Novel Writing and Publication (Title Undecided)
Project description: A novel that portrays every-day life in Jerusalem. Turning away from the idealistic clichés and sanctified portraits that are often found in writing about the city, this novel seeks to portray a much more realistic image of Jerusalem, one that offers a contemporary and candid view.


Grantee: Mohammad Harradi (Morocco)
Project Title: Dante - A Novel.
Project Description: A novel that blends literary fiction and historic documentation. Inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy, it reflects on the adventurous life of guerrilla warrior and political leader Abd Al-Karim Al-Khattabi – the commander of the ‘Reef’ war who founded the first republic state in Morocco (1921) – and prominent characters of today’s ‘Arab Spring’ era. 


Grantee: Alaa Rashidi (Syria)
Project Title: The Final Game before Setting the Rules.
Project Description: A collection of eight stories chosen to reflect on the process of social change. The stories reveal a shift in the cultural and aesthetic standards emerging in Syrian society today. They are not historical records, compilations of testimonies, or works of a revolutionary nature that seek to propagate particular ideals. Rather, this project is an attempt to reflect on the impact of social experiences and transformations through literary works, existential anxiety, the psychology of fantasies and collective imagination. 


Grantee: Ula Al–Khateeb
Project Title: Waiting for You.
Project Description: A collection of prose on love, alienation and longing. This project aims to bring together young people from all over Syria reflecting on lost love due to social stigma, sectarian discrimination and/or immigration.


Grantee: Abir El-Sayed (Egypt).
Project Title: Between Us, A Fish: A book of poetry for young people and adults.
Project Description: A collection of 28 poems for all ages. A symbol of the unconscious, the fish is an invitation to meditate on the deeper meanings of life as they appear in feelings, dreams and attachments. The poems are accompanied by caricature illustrations to highlight inherent paradoxes. 


Grantee: Tariq Farrag (Egypt)
Project Title: Landing Slowly Below
Project Description: The novel is set in the high school of one of the Western Sahara oases villages in Egypt. The main character is a young girl who moved from the Cairo to enroll to the 9th grade class of the village school. Her flashbacks to urban life in the capital contrast with her current life in the village through which the story unfolds, allowing for new perspectives to be articulated regarding the recent occurrences in Egypt.


Grantee: Tarek Emam (Egypt)
Project Title: Ungaretti’s Buried Port.
Project Description: This novel is based on the life of famous Italian poet Joseph Ungaretti, born in Alexandria in 1888 and deceased in Milan in 1970. Ungaretti wrote his autobiography during his last visit to Alexandria, the city of his consciousness and his youth, in 1969. On his arrival, he seeks the truth behind the mysterious death of his father who was a laborer at the Suez Canal construction site. 


Grantee: Samir Youssef (Lebanon).
Project Title: Niyawah
Project Description: Niyawah is a mythical village founded by early ancestors who had lost their innate sense of travel. They settled the land like everyone else and brought up three generations. The novel attempts to shed light on rural life in Lebanon, the hardships of survival, the attachment to land and to slogans of perseverance when, in reality, the inhabitants have lost their sense of belonging to a greater world and are unconsciously choosing isolation. 


Grantee: Sahar Mandour (Egypt)
Project title: Mina
Project description: The character of this novel is Mina, a talented movie actress in her late thirties. Mina receives awards at the ‘Cannes Film Festival’ for each of her three films, only to receive news of the death of a family member or close friends immediately thereafter. Her optimism fades by these losses and, when her homosexual inclinations are made public by a local magazine, she is forced to leave Beirut. A year later, a friend reporter on BBC contacts her for a series of interviews. She shares perspectives on her life growing up in war-torn Lebanon, cinematic success and violation of personal privacy. Unexpectedly, she decides to return to her home country, armed with a shield of cynicism to figure out her own space.


Grantee: Samia El-Atout (Jordan)
Project Title: Coming and Going to the Square.
Project Description: A collection of short stories that seeks to shed light on marginalized characters in society, men and women, nameless heroes in the era of ‘Arab Spring’. These short stories include illustration, comic-strip and photographs, thus reflecting the primacy of visual communication in contemporary culture.


Grantee: Sameh El-Gabas (Egypt)
Project Title: “The Blue Wolf” and “The Curse of Sumanat”.
Project Description: These two novels are written for twelve- year- old children yet based on historical research. “The Blue Wolf” brings to life the character of “Muzaffar Al-Din Kukbury” Prince of Erbil, while “The Curse of Sumanat” tells the tale of Sultan Mahmoud Ghaznawi who brought Islamic rule to India. The two novels are written from the perspective of a contemporary 12 year-old boy who sets off on time-traveling adventures. 


Grantee: Sara Ismail (Egypt)
Project Title: A Writing and Reading of an Untitled Play.
Project Description: Set in the early chaos of revolutionary Egypt, Ramez tries to survive by holding on to normal life and rejecting all that is happening around him, including his friend’s arrest, his girlfriend’s disappearance, and the workers’ strikes that risk terminating the family business for which he is in charge. Meanwhile, Nahed is held in a military prison together with Ramez’s girlfriend where they await trial on accusations that remain unclear. 


Grantee: Inaam Kachachi (Iraq)
Project title: Tashari (Temporary Title)
Project description: A novel about Iraqi diaspora through the biography of a mother and her daughter, both doctors. When medical physicians are targeted to be killed, the eighty-years-old mother and her daughter are forced to immigrate from Iraq to faraway Canada, land of the so-called red Indians. The mother feels alienated, culture-shocked and longs to return home to be buried next to her husband. One of her grandchildren finds her consolation: he establishes a virtual cemetery on the internet for remains of Iraqi families living in diaspora, thus creates a community for the dispersed, known in the Iraqi vernacular as the “Tashari”.


Grantee: Usama Abu Zeid (Egypt)
Project title: The Forgotten
Project description: A novel about the marginalized and the forgotten, faraway places that are usually abandoned, lives and moments that are often invisible to the ‘average reader.’


Grantee: Usama El-Shazly (Egypt)
Project title: Kafr al-Abeet
Project description: A novel told by numerous narrators and set in an Egyptian Delta village. When the military invades the village to construct a military base on agricultural land, several villagers rise up in protest. The army, however, manages to quell the majority into silence by spreading rumors of an impending enemy threat from a neighboring village and reviving an ancient dispute. 


Grantee: Ghassan Kanafani Cultural Foundation
Project Title: Ghassan Kanafani Audio Books
Project Description: The project aims to publish the literary heritage of Ghassan Kanafani’s works - including novels, short stories, and plays - to a wider audience through Arabic audio books. This media will allow Kanafani’s work to become accessible. 


Grantee: The Tamer Institute (Palestine)
Project title: Letters to the Present.
Project description: A year-long project inviting young Palestinians between the ages of 14 and18 to engage in research about the British Mandate period of Palestinian history through fields trips, library visits, reading biographies and autobiographies of notable Palestinians from that period and collecting oral histories and traditions.


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